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Simple Ensemble

"You have a unique style.  Nobody plays the way you do.  Nobody."

-Phil Lawrence, mandolinist & composer

I really appreciated that public evaluation from Phil to his audience while playing Psalm For Charlie on his radio show KKOW-FM in 2015 and again in 2016. A lovely mandolinist & teacher, husband & father.  He would know: he's seen me play since I showcased wild "punk Bach mandolin" in 1977 at Temple Beautiful, MCing for "It's a Beautiful Day", Jello Biafra and other now-famous bands.  After 40 years, I've mellowed--a little.      


Playing mandolin = "taking the listener on a journey".   These compositions were chosen--as journeys for BOTH musicians & listeners--with a 'simple ensemble'.  When some version (from trio to octet) plays shows, we alternatively relax and excite our audience.  What joy!


Recording Psalm For Charlie, however, was a journey of sadness and hopeful.  The moment before we recorded the final tune, I asked pianist Randy Craig and bassist Richard Baum fervently, "Let's really make this a psalm for Charlie".  Charlie Haden had died suddenly only a month before...and I never recovered.  Our solos were played with sweet solemnity.  The bass solo wreathes with sadness, evoking the moment when the soul reluctantly leaves the body.  On my final solo, I just cried and cried all the way through.  I went to a very deep place. That's what you hear, a precious moment.  A Psalm For Charlie sent him across the divide. 


Charley Haden dedicated his life to a revolutionary union of jazz & politics, a practice I share profoundly with him.  Charlie's seminal work helped me to see, to reflect, to take a chance, to be fearless, to listen deeply, to share, to play with purpose.  Induce the audience to close their eyes & listen.   


Yip Harburg once said, "Revolution starts at the end of a breadline".  For over 30 years, members of this band have played at St. Martin De Porres in The Mission at Thanksgiving & Xmas Eve meals for up to 400 homeless folks.  Better than any breadline, we get homeless folks well-fed, happy and dancing!  Thank you Brother Charlie.  We will continue your legacy.


-Patrick Fahey